Career : 2011 - 2015
Debut : Round 2, 2011 vs Gold Coast, aged 18 years, 265 days
Carlton Player No. 1132
Games : 23
Goals : 10
Last Game : Round 23, 2015 vs Hawthorn, aged 23 years, 52 days
Guernsey No. 10
Height : 195 cm (6 ft. 4 in.)
Weight : 102 kg (16 stone, 0 lbs.)
DOB : 16 July, 1992
A nephew of former Essendon Premiership ruckman Steve Alessio, Matthew Watson was recruited by the Blues at selection 18 in the 2010 National Draft from the Calder Cannons Under-18s. Tall and strong-bodied at 195 cm and 102 kg, Matthew began his football venture at Essendon Grammar School and Pascoe Vale before joining the Cannons, where he went on to represent Vic Metro in the Under-18 National Carnival and won All Australian selection at centre half-back.
In dire need of big defenders, Carlton targeted Watson from the earliest days of the draft camp. Impressed by his size, marking skills and powerful left-foot kicking, the match committee was keen to fast-track his development, so he was selected for his first senior game in round 2, 2011. This was an historic occasion – the first match for the AFL’s youngest club; the Gold Coast Suns, against one of the oldest; the Navy Blues of Carlton, at the Gabba in Brisbane. And adding lustre to the occasion, it also marked Carlton captain Chris Judd’s 200th career game.
Wearing guernsey 10 in a back pocket alongside Simon White and Jeremy Laidler, Watson’s nerves were settled by Carlton’s 9-goal first quarter blitz. From then on, the game was a training drill. Matthew collected 18 possessions and two marks in an auspicious start, and by full-time his clearing kicks were already attracting the roar of “woof” from the terraces.
But the very next week, the Blues were given a severe jolt when Collingwood emerged victorious by five goals in front of 88,000 at the MCG. For most of that game, Watson shadowed the Magpies’ monster forwards Chris Dawes and Travis Cloke, and although Matthew was credited with six marks, the gulf of experience was painfully obvious. Afterwards he was sent back to the VFL to restore his confidence, and following a number of impressive games with the Northern Bullants, was recalled for the return clash with Collingwood at the MCG in round 17.
Partly because of the absence of Jarrad Waite and Michael Jamison through injury – but also because it was a case of jumping back on to a horse that had already thrown him, Watson played on Cloke for a second time that afternoon, with similar results. The Magpies won by 19 points, as Matthew’s steep learning curve continued. Thereafter, he played out the year with the Bullants, and fronted up for his second season in 2012 just a little older, stronger and more aware of what was required to become a regular AFL footballer.
However, right at a point where Matthew’s progress needed encouragement, confidence and support, the Blues fell into a hole. In his first senior game for the year, against Port Adelaide at Football Park in round 10, Watson collected 14 possessions and took seven marks as Carlton was controversially thrashed for the third time in four matches. In the days and weeks that followed, the clubs’ fan base was livid. Although the Blues were enduring a debilitating run of injury to key players, losses to teams on the lower rungs of the ladder would not be tolerated, and criticism came from all quarters.
Over the later stages of 2012, Matthew played another seven matches before his season was prematurely ended by a broken finger in the first few minutes of a VFL game in August. Meawhile, Carlton was about to suffer another humiliating defeat at the hands of the Gold Coast Suns – a disaster that spelt the end of senior coach Brett Ratten’s six-year tenure at the helm of the Blues.
In November, Ratten was replaced by veteran three-time Premiership coach Mick Malthouse – whose coaching mantra throughout his successful forays at West Coast and Collingwood had always been heavily defence-orientated. In one of his first media interviews, Malthouse made a point of singling out Watson, saying that he had a lot of confidence in the young giant, and that Matthew’s lethal left foot was an asset that the Blues would be looking to exploit as often as possible.
Despite that endorsement, Watson spent the first 16 weeks of 2013 playing VFL football with the Northern Blues. Eventually, he broke back into Carlton’s senior side and settled into the Blues’ back six, where he began gaining some much-needed confidence. In round 17 against North Melbourne he underlined his value by launching a 70-metre bomb from half-back that sailed over the Kangaroos’ defensive press and fell into the arms of Ed Curnow – who strolled in for the easiest of goals.
Then, just as he began to string games together, Matthew suffered a season-ending fracture in his left foot. Carlton kept faith with the 21 year-old by signing him to a new two-year contract, but that decision was heavily questioned when Watson had played only two more senior games by late August, when he was recalled for the last match of the season against Essendon.
Over preceding weeks, Matthew had been played as a key forward with the Northern Blues, where he had been productive in a team that was suffering regular defeat. With Lachie Henderson finished for the year and only bragging rights at stake, Malthouse called on Watson to step up, emphasising to him that his opportunities at senior level were running out.
To the joy of the Carlton faithful amid the crowd of 56,000 at the MCG on that Saturday afternoon, Watson responded by kicking four telling goals as the Blues and the Bombers fought out a thrilling draw. It was a breakout game at last for the big blonde Blue, and many thought that it had resurrected his faltering career. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
In 2015, Carlton endured surely the worst season in the club’s history. Well-beaten in the first three games and ravaged by injury thereafter, the Blues sacked Malthouse in late May and wobbled through the remainder of the year to finish last. Watson wasn’t selected until round 7, when Greater Western Sydney demolished the hapless Blues by 78 points at Docklands. Matthew had a dirty evening, and after a couple of glaring mistakes deep in defence, was substituted out of the game in the third term.
With caretaker coach John Barker at the helm, Watson was recalled for the last three matches of the season and again played as a marking forward. His most productive effort came in round 23, when he took eight marks and kicked two goals against the reigning premiers Hawthorn. But that wasn’t enough to save his career, and he was delisted in September.
2016 - 17; Later that year, after failing to find a new club through the National Draft, Matthew signed with WAFL club East Fremantle, whose new coach was a familiar face – Carlton’s former Director of Coaching and Development, Rob Wiley. After a solid first season in 2016 where he played 20 games he would line up for the Sharks for the 2017 season as well.
2018 - Watson returned back to his original junior club Pascoe Vale in the Essendon District Football League.
LinksArticles: Blues name Watson with selection 1
Blueseum: A summary of Watson's career | Watson's Blueseum Image Gallery